Do you get excited when you find something valuable? I love when that happens, especially when I realize it has been overlooked before but I didn’t miss it the second time around.
This week I was reading through 1 Kings 18, which may or may not be a familiar passage of scripture to you. It is one of my absolute favorite stories of the Old Testament, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.
I think I love it so much because God kicks butt.
Can I say that here? He really does. It has to be one of the biggest throw downs in the Bible. You can read about the throw down in 1 Kings 18:25-39.
As awesome as that story is, that is not the treasure that I stumbled upon this week. My treasure, the part of the chapter that rocked my world, is found in 1 Kings 18:18-20 when Elijah approaches King Ahaz,
I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.”
Did that blow your mind? No, not yet? Okay, well those of you who have figured out where I’m going with this can just sit here and bask in the awesomeness of God. Those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, stick with me and don’t feel bad. I’ve read this story close to a gazillion times and I just discovered it.
Let’s back up ton 1 Kings 18:1-15. You see, King Ahaz’s wife, Jezebel, didn’t care for the prophets of the Lord. In fact, she went on a killing spree killing any of them she found. She really didn’t like Elijah and neither did the king. King A was a bad dude and he sent search parties out looking for Elijah.
When Elijah happened upon Obadiah and told him to let King A know he was here to see him, Obadiah feared for his life. Look at verses 10 and 14,
As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you.
And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”
King A was not looking for Elijah to invite him in for tea. He had plans to kill him, like all of the other prophets of the Lord. But what did God tell Elijah to do? He told him to go present himself to the king (1 King 18:1).
Elijah was obedient to do whatever the Lord told him to do.
Now, back to my aha moment. Elijah, a man basically on death row under the rule and reign of King Ahaz marches himself right up to the man looking to kill him. That’s boldness, but Elijah doesn’t stop there. He tells the king what to do (verse 19). That’s gutsy. But here’s the kicker…. the aha moment…. the treasure…
AHAZ DOES IT!!!
Ahaz doesn’t order Elijah to be taken to the gallows. He doesn’t pull out a sword and execute the man he’s been searching for so he could kill him. He doesn’t even scream at him asking him,
Who do you think you are telling me, the king, what to do?”
No! None of that happens. Instead, Ahaz, the king, follows orders. He does exactly what Elijah commanded him to do. You can find it right there in 1 Kings 18:20. Based on the fact that the command was given in verse 19 and the execution of the command took place in verse 20, you could assume King Ahaz responded immediately.
So, I have to ask myself, and you, this?
Why do we get so freaked out when God asks us to do something that seems difficult, uncertain, or scary? Why do we spend more time coming up with reasons we can’t accomplish it instead of going and doing what He asks us with boldness and confidence?
Elijah could have been violently executed. He could have been beaten and fed to lions or hung from the gallows for all to see. He could have been thrown in jail to rot the rest of his life away. He could have been humiliated in front of the very nation he had been trying to warn and protect. But none of those things happened. Not one of them.
Instead, because Elijah responded to God’s command he got participate in not one, but two incredible miracles. He got to see the enemy bend in response to his request and then he got to witness God obliterate his challengers, so much so, we are still talking about it today.
The real issue wasn’t if Elijah believed in his abilities or not. The real issue was whether Elijah believed in God’s abilities or not.